GOP Lawmaker Accuses Musk Of Throttling In Taiwan

In a recent development, Representative Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin has raised concerns over the possibility of SpaceX deliberately withholding satellite services for Taiwan. As the chair of the House Committee on Competition with China, Gallagher expressed his apprehensions in a letter addressed to billionaire Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX. The letter, obtained by the Wall Street Journal, highlights that such actions may violate SpaceX’s contractual obligations with the United States government.

According to Gallagher’s letter, there are suspicions that SpaceX might withhold broadband internet services in and around Taiwan. This restriction could potentially hinder the country’s access to crucial communication infrastructure and subsequently affect the ability of U.S. officials stationed in Taiwan to rely on the network in the event of Chinese military aggression.

Gallagher requested Musk to provide further information regarding the availability of the Starshield program, a sub-program of Starlink that offers enhanced satellite access for national security communications. As the U.S. government has invested a significant amount, approximately $100 million, in Musk’s program, Gallagher emphasized that it is essential for U.S. personnel worldwide to have reliable access to the network.

SpaceX’s coverage map excludes China and lists Taiwan as “coming soon.” This exclusion has raised concerns about the potential geopolitical ramifications of limiting satellite services in such a sensitive region.

The timing of Gallagher’s letter is particularly noteworthy, as it follows a recent bipartisan delegation visit to Taiwan led by the congressman. During the visit, Gallagher and other representatives met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Vice President Lai Ching-te. The delegation expressed unwavering support for Taiwan and reiterated the United States’ commitment to its freedom and security.

China has long claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and has not ruled out the use of force to reunite the island with the mainland. Given these geopolitical tensions, Gallagher’s concerns regarding the potential withholding of satellite services by SpaceX take on added significance.

There has been no response from SpaceX regarding Gallagher’s letter and the allegations made. However, the congressman requested Musk to provide the information by March 8.

This development underscores the increasing importance of satellite communication infrastructure in today’s global landscape. It also highlights the intricacies of navigating geopolitical dynamics as countries and organizations seek to balance commercial interests and national security considerations.